Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

May 01, 2004

Plan from past could relieve Beltway tie-ups

The comments on the Baltimore Beltway illustrate a lack of understanding of the real problems and needs of commuters in and around Baltimore in the 21st century ("Easing Beltway traffic with no room to grow," April 25).

Growth in Baltimore County was planned on the west side and in Owings Mills - and lo and behold, it was built. To the planners' apparent astonishment, congestion on the Beltway's west and southwest side has grown until that area became gridlock during rush hour.

It seems that many of the residents of Owings Mills work in Baltimore, and because there is no direct, fast, well-maintained road into the city, they travel down the Beltway and up Interstate 95 and Interstate 395. However, the answer to the congestion problem was killed by Maryland's politicians before Beltway congestion was even an issue.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Interstate 70 was planned (and nearly built) to take traffic from the west side directly into the heart of Baltimore.

Most of it was even built. I-70 went as far as Security Boulevard before construction stopped. It was intended to link up with what has become known as our very own "Highway to Nowhere," which runs more or less between Greene Street and Fulton Avenue.

But in the path of the road was Leakin Park and neighborhoods of what politicians thought might be a voting block of emerging black middle class. The road plan was nixed in their favor.

Thirty years later, Leakin Park is a preferred dumping spot for murderers and that black middle class did what all self-respecting middle class folks do in Baltimore - escape the taxes and crime and move to the counties. So we're left with two underused stretches of highway that, if finished as intended, could be the answer to the Beltway congestion problems.

Owings Mills and Woodlawn residents could be downtown during rush hour in about 25 minutes instead of 50 minutes.

The congestion would simply go away, saving taxpayers billions in lost time and road construction costs that won't work because the problem isn't addressed.

The past plan was better. Can we revisit it now that we've seen the future?

Harry DeBusk

Halethorpe

Living in the city is cure for congestion

The Sun did an excellent job in capturing the Baltimore region's frustration with Beltway back-ups in its article "Easing Beltway traffic with no room to grow" (April 25).

State officials are looking to build new lanes, create toll lanes and improve technology to clear accidents and redirect traffic as the remaining options to easing congestion.

I'd like to suggest one more option - one that Baltimore residents have known about for decades. Living in Baltimore City is the best way to avoid Beltway traffic.

Baltimore has many neighborhoods where property values are rising, housing is still affordable and the drive to downtown is convenient.

As the population in the metropolitan region continues to increase, traffic will increase. That is why it is so important that Marylanders support Baltimore's resurgence, land-use policies that efficiently guide new growth to areas where infrastructure already exists and a regional transit plan.

In the meantime, living in Baltimore is the only sure-fire way to avoid those Beltway back-ups.

Otis Rolley III

Baltimore

The writer is the director of the Baltimore City Planning Commission.

Reverence for life is the better choice

The Sun's headline "Thousands rally for abortion rights" (April 26) was a sad commentary on our freedom of choice to make moral decisions.

The accompanying picture showed a woman with a sign saying "Keep abortion legal" above the caption: "Thousands poured through the capital to raise awareness of what they see as an erosion of abortion rights."

With the murder rate in Baltimore one of the highest in the United States, wouldn't it be better to raise the awareness of what I see as the erosion of the value and preciousness of life at any stage of its development?

Maybe a sign that reads "Keep all life legal" or "Keep God's laws respected and honored" might be more meaningful. Or maybe someone should have been wearing a banner that said "Make adoption a better option." Wouldn't that be a better choice for life?

This throw-away society has gone too far when it starts making throwing away babies legal and acceptable and not emphasizing loving and valuing the most precious gift given to mankind - life.

It is a mockery to our creator to devalue this sacred gift, and this is the reason our country is going down the drain morally and our homicide rates keep climbing.

If you can't value a life that is growing inside of you, how can you value it once it is walking and living outside of you?

Barbara Ann Bloom

Baltimore

A march for women, children and choice

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